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The 2017 Harvard Medalists

July-August 2017

Three alumni received the Harvard Medal, for extraordinary service to the University, at the Harvard Alumni Association’s annual meeting on the afternoon of Commencement day. They are:

Henry N. Cobb
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Henry N. Cobb ’47, M.Arch. ’49, a former professor and chair of the architecture department at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) and former president of the GSD Association. Cobb designed several local buildings, including the terra cotta-clad Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) complex on Cambridge Street. CGIS is “representative of Harry’s contributions to the University and the Harvard community, and of his vision as an architect,” says GSD dean Mohsen Mostafavi. Cobb still teaches occasionally at the school as a visiting lecturer, serves as an honorary member of its campaign committee, and contributes actively to Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, the architecture firm he helped found in 1955.

Visionary architect with an eye for building community, you have helped shape Harvard both physically and pedagogically as a designer, writer, educator, and leader for the Graduate School of Design—enhancing the beauty of the built environment on campus and around the world with works of subtle elegance and profound eloquence.

Warren Masters Little
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Warren Masters Little ’55, who has devoted decades of service to Harvard’s alumni, athletic, and other organizations. “Renny” Little has served on numerous HAA committees since 1977, including the Happy Observance of Commencement Committee for 33 years—18 as its secretary. “An avid Harvard fan, he served as vice president and is an advisory committee member for the Harvard Varsity Club. He is an active member of the Friends of Harvard Track and rarely misses a home meet, or football, or women’s hockey game,” according to a statement from the HAA. “For Harvard’s 350th, he created an exhibit of Harvard’s athletic memorabilia. The pro bono curator of the Lee Family Athletic Hall of History, Little has collected Crimson treasures, refurbishing many for display.” A former executive director of both the Cambridge Historical Society and the Higgins Armory Museum, he was also a director of education at the New England Aquarium and a teacher and coach at the Rivers School. Little has also long served as secretary for his College class.

Dedicated volunteer, poetic orator, mentor to many, and friend to all with a keen sense of history and humor, you have selflessly carried the baton for your class, Crimson athletics, and the entire Harvard community—equally comfortable in a top hat and tails at Commencement or a raccoon coat at The Game, and always wearing your H on your sleeve.

A. Clayton Spencer
Photograph by Jim Harrison

A. Clayton Spencer, A.M. ’82, who assisted four different Harvard presidents across 15 years. She was a senior administrator during the late 1990s and early 2000s, a period of significant change for the University, and was involved in the merger of Harvard with Radcliffe College and the resulting creation of the Radcliffe Institute; the creation of the financial-aid initiative, which made the College tuition-free for low-income families; and other high-profile University projects. Since 2012, she has been president of Bates College—President Drew Faust spoke at her installation ceremony. Drawing on her extensive experience, Spencer reviewed Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education, by William G. Bowen, for Harvard Magazine (September-October, 2016, page 64).

With conviction and humility that underscore your fierce commitment to higher education, you have served as an astute and forthright advisor to four Harvard presidents, providing the driving force and steady hand behind transformational University moments, including the launch of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the expansion of financial aid.

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